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Leaflet Advertising Nazi Magazine Neues Volk

A eugenics propaganda poster.
Public Domain

The featured leaflet for the monthly Nazi propaganda magazine Neues Volk ("New People" or "New Nation") was created sometime in 1937 or 1938. Neues Volk was published by the Racial Political Office of the Nazi Party throughout the 1930s and early 1940s.1 Led by a young German physician named Walter Gross, the Racial Political Office was formed to build public support for Nazi racial policies and theories of eugenics—the belief that society could be improved through selective breeding.2 Gross was a dedicated Nazi whose speeches and propaganda tried to win new support for Nazi rule by downplaying Nazi racism and antisemitism. He focused instead on the seemingly more positive themes of community and national pride.3

The monthly publication Neues Volk was designed to resemble the format of popular German women’s magazines and American magazines such as Life. It featured many photographs and articles on a wide range of topics in order to attract a large number of readers,4 but the magazine was designed to spread Nazi propaganda about race, eugenics, and family life. Neues Volk celebrated the supposed racial and cultural superiority of so-called “Aryan” Germans and encouraged “Aryans” to have large families with many children. The magazine also spread negative propaganda about people excluded from the Nazi regime’s so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft") on the basis of Nazi understandings of race and biology. The groups targeted in Neues Volk included Jewish people, ethnic Poles, and Germans with disabilities.

The featured leaflet was designed to increase public support for Nazi eugenics policies by criticizing the economic costs of providing care for people who were “hereditarily ill” (“Erbkranke”). This phrase was frequently used to describe a wide range of people diagnosed with mental or physical disabilities, alcoholism, or medical conditions such as Huntington’s disease. Nazi propaganda often cast people with disabilities as financial burdens on the “national community” in order to increase public support for forced sterilizations—medical procedures designed to make it biologically impossible to reproduce.5 Shortly after the Nazi Party rose to power in 1933, the new regime enacted the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases. This law created so-called Hereditary Health Courts that ordered the forced sterilizations of roughly 400,000 Germans during the years of Nazi rule.6

Nazi ideology promoted a narrow view of the value of human life—an individual’s worth was measured only by how they might contribute to the goals of the regime and the broader welfare of the Nazis' so-called “national community.” While many Nazi propaganda films tried to portray people with disabilities with scorn, other examples of Nazi propaganda like Neues Volk promoted the idea that people with disabilities were objects of pity that could not contribute to Nazi society. In a 1934 speech, for example, Walter Gross mourned those “poor creatures” who are “no joy either to themselves or others. They are a burden throughout their miserable existences.” He also focused on economic considerations and the “enormous sums that have been spent for decades.” Nazi eugenics propaganda often highlighted the financial costs of providing care to people with disabilities. Why might the regime have focused on these themes to increase support for Nazi eugenics policies among German citizens?

The Racial Political Office of the Nazi party (Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP) first published Neues Volk in 1933. Propaganda work to build public support for Nazi theories of race and eugenics first began under the Nazi Party’s Office for Enlightenment on Population Policy and Racial Welfare before the larger Racial Political Office was established in 1934. By the late 1930s, the Racial Political Office had more than 3,000 people working for it throughout Nazi Germany.

These ideas were widely accepted by many people in the early 20th century, but others at the time doubted that theories of eugenics were actually scientific in any way. These ideas have since been discredited. To learn more about the international eugenics movement, see Marius Turda and Paul J. Weindling, eds., "Blood and Homeland": Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940 (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2007); Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); and Randall Hansen, Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race, and the Population Scare in Twentieth-Century North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 

Gross was an influential figure in the production of Nazi propaganda for many years, but relatively little is known about him because he destroyed the records of his office before dying by suicide in 1945. To learn more about Walter Gross, the Racial Political Office, and Neues Volk, see Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge & London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 105-30. For more primary sources related to the Nazi regime's use of seemingly positive propaganda to build public support, see the Experiencing History collection, Nazi Propaganda and National Unity.

This approach was meant to appeal to readers who did not respond to the academic tone of other eugenics publications or to the hateful antisemitism and racism of other Nazi newspapers. By 1938, Neues Volk was reporting a circulation of 300,000. 

The vast majority of those sterilized under Nazi rule were women. For more primary sources about forced sterilizations under Nazi rule, see the related Experiencing History items, Letter to SS Doctor Gregor Ebner, Sterilization Order for August Alzen, Sign Language Testimony of Helga Gross, and Lothrop Stoddard: "In a Eugenics Court."

Nazi leaders and German medical professionals thought they could increase the overall health and strength of the so-called "national community" by sterilizing people diagnosed with traits that they considered negative and inheritable—such as blindness, deafness, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, mental and physical disabilities, or alcoholism. The Hereditary Health Courts often passed judgments on individuals they had not personally examined. For more primary sources related to people targeted due to Nazi theories of eugenics, see the Experiencing History collection, Targets of Eugenics.

German racial community.

Racial or ethnic comrade, or member of the Volk.

German: "New Nation" or "New People."

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60,000 Reichsmarks

is what this genetically defective man will cost the Volksgemeinschaft,1 over his lifetime.

Fellow German Volksgenosse,2 that’s your money too.

Read Neues Volk3

The monthly bulletins of the Racial Policy Office of the Nazi Party

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Public Domain
Accession Number 29463
Date Created
1937 to 1938
Document Type Pamphlet
How to Cite Museum Materials

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